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983730 Posts in 65211 Topics- by 16057 Members - Latest Member: jordanyunus
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1  Practice Break / Purely Politics / Re: Wake Up, America! on: Today at 03:40 AM
Another one from Tuscany:


I recently did a column describing the disaster "GOP Tax Policies Gone Wild" have inflicted on the people of Kansas. It has only gotten worse as many school districts have had to close early for the summer because they have run out of money. (Think about what that says about GOP priorities) The Kansas case is extreme, but it is not out of the norm for what's going on in states with GOP legislatures.

Another crystal clear example of the typical disaster GOP governance burdens its people with is playing out in Wisconsin. In the Dairy State, Gov. Scott Walker, is shoveling as fast as he can to stay ahead of multiple ethics and campaign finance investigations. The SCOTUS just refused to hear one case attempting to halt one of the many investigations into his political skullduggery.

Another one involves the Governor's privatization of the State's Commerce Dept. In his first year in office, Walker turned the responsibilities of the dept. over to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, a "semi-private" corporation with him as its CEO. Since that day the corporation has done little of value for the State while making tremendous messes with its finances and obligations.

A 2013 audit done by the non-partisan State Audit Bureau determined that the WEDC had given millions of dollars to companies that were ineligible to receive them, for projects that were not eligible to receive them, and in amounts that exceeded specified legal limits. The Corporation had lost track of millions of dollars of loans, never asking that they be repaid, and the Federal Housing Authority accused it of spending federal funds without authorization.

A recently completed audit shows that, not only has the WEDC not corrected its past deficiencies, things have actually gotten worse. In addition to all the financial issues, the Corporation is massively underperforming in its mission to create jobs. Independent reviews of WEDC claims of the number of jobs created are more than double the reality, and the agency is taking credit for jobs created before awards were given or for jobs that weren't actually created, but were "impacted".

Throw in some questionable loans made to failing businesses run by Walker contributors and you get a picture of the ineptitude and crony capitalism that is the norm for the privatization passion of the GOP. When will Americans wake up and realize the GOP is a wholly owned subsidiary of the worst of the top >.01%?
2  Practice Break / Purely Politics / Re: Wake Up, America! on: May 28, 2015, 11:21PM
Writing from The Tuscan countryside, so wi-fi has been scarce. This week's effort:

Pope Francis

Just as many Republicans have put party before country in their irrational hatred of President Obama, it now appears that Catholic Republicans are having to decide whether they are going to place party before church in their choice of allegiance. Pope Francis has put forth a decidedly Progressive doctrine for followers of Catholicism that is in direct contradiction to many basic tenets of the GOP.

Conservatives have long (always?) been Olympic grade contortionists in their capacity to twist logic to fit their ideologies, and watching the Catholic members of the 2016 GOP clown car try to reconcile their positions with those espoused by the new Holy Father is nothing new. That said, it does provide yet another window through which to view the hypocrisy at the core of Conservative politics.

Christian Conservatives, of all denominations, have always cherry-picked the sections of the Bible and, especially, New Testament they choose to follow in a manner that shames the Bush administration's cherry-picking of intelligence in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq. Pope Francis is now calling Catholics out on that cherry-picking in no uncertain terms.

Pick an area of Conservative doctrine:

Universal healthcare

Income/ wealth inequality


Denial of human impact on global climate change

Recognition of a Palestinian State

Normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba

In all of these areas, as well as many others, this new Pope is advancing positions for followers of the faith that are in direct opposition to the core doctrines and policies of the Republican Party. In persons with open minds and open hearts this would lead to soul searching and a re-alignment of beliefs, but I suspect that is highly unlikely to be a common occurrence among the ideologues that make up today's Republican Party.

We have already heard Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush distancing themselves from the Pontiff, drawing a line between the man and the position. That will become harder to do over time as the Pope issues new (CYCLICALS) like the upcoming one on climate change and the environment. At that point, those will be the positions of the church, not the man.

We have long seen those on the right pummel Catholics like John Kerry for their positions on women's rights. We will now get to see if they are willing to walk the walk when it comes to adherence to their faith. We will probably see acts more worthy of Dancing With The Stars.
3  Practice Break / Purely Politics / Re: Wake Up, America! on: May 16, 2015, 11:56AM
From a Canadian Press piece:

"When asked whether the government was planning a takeover of Texas, 32 per cent of self-identified Republican primary voters replied, "Yes." Forty per cent said no, according to the Public Policy poll of 1,285 respondents. The likeliest to respond in the affirmative were supporters of the presidential candidacies of Sen. Ted Cruz (56 per cent) and ex-governor Rick Perry (76 per cent)."

Believers, asked who was behind the plot, named Obama (who, as you know, hates America) and communists (can you name 3, and I'll give you Putin).

THere have always been idiots in Texas, but when I left there they weren't running the place. I am SSOOO proud to be an EX-Texan these days.
4  Practice Break / Purely Politics / Re: Wake Up, America! on: May 15, 2015, 10:42AM
He was also working with a Congress controlled by progressive Democrats. THat is the single most reliable factor in determining whether a Congress will get things done that benefit the majority of Americans.
5  Practice Break / Purely Politics / Re: Wake Up, America! on: May 14, 2015, 10:17AM

The state of our infrastructure here in the “Good Ol’ US of A” is a joke. Not only are we not building the new infrastructure it is going to take to be competitive in this 21st Century, we are not updating the infrastructure our parents and grandparents built for us up to keep it current with modern capabilities. Heck, we’re not even “doing the regular work” necessary to keep the infrastructure functional at the level it performed to when it was built.
Roads and bridges are just one area one can look at to see how bad we, as a society, are failing ourselves. There are currently 9900 bridges in the United States that are over 100 years old. According to the DOT there are more than 70,000 bridges that have been classified as “structurally deficient”.
Millions of motorists cross those bridges each and every day. It is only by chance we have not had many recurrences of the disastrous collapse of the I-35 bridge across the Mississippi River in Minnesota in 2007. That collapse killed 13 people and injured another 145. The rate of bridge failures is escalating.

According to Timothy Galarnyk, CEO of Construction Risk Management, there were 31 bridge failures in the US between 1980 and 2009, an average of one every 8 months. From 2010 to mid-2012 there were 27 bridge collapses, an average of one a month. Our infrastructure is, literally, crumbling under our collective feet.
In the 1950’s, Dwight Eisenhower funded and began the process of building the Interstate Highway system that links our great country from shore to shore and border to border. During his administration we were also building the roads and airports and hospitals, etc., that made American infrastructure the envy of the world.
It was possible because he instituted a rational tax system that re-claimed a reasonable portion of OUR GDP from those at the very top and re-invested it in our society. We quit doing that with the Reagan tax cuts of the 1980’s. Now, instead of building and maintaining what we need to be a world class nation, that portion of our GDP is going into tax havens.
Our new GOP Congress has voted to repeal the Estate Tax, costing the Treasury over $270B in the next ten years, and then cut $260M from the Amtrak budget. We get what we vote for, folks.
Wake up, America!
6  Practice Break / Purely Politics / Re: Wake Up, America! on: May 12, 2015, 05:57AM

 they've left us no choice but to give them their way and let them take credit.

Again, YIKES! WOW, The terrorists have their guns to our head. We have no choice but to give them their way and let them take credit. God help us. So, we have to let them drive us completely off the cliff and into another World War before we throw their asses out like we did in the 1930's? I pray it doesn't come to that.

7  Practice Break / Purely Politics / Re: Wake Up, America! on: May 11, 2015, 05:52AM

 I'd take Jeb over HIllary,

YIkes!! He has staffed his foreign policy team with all the idiots from his brothers regime, and has stated his brother will be his go to guy for issues involving the Middle East. If he were the re=incarnation of FDR that would be enough to keep me from voting for him. And, that's before you even start to look at the disastrous tax and economic policies he would favor.
8  Practice Break / Purely Politics / Re: Wake Up, America! on: May 01, 2015, 06:17PM
I'm not forgetting that--she would have been a better choice than Obama. Everyone seems to get nominated one election past their pull date, like McCain.

She would have lost to McCain and Caribou Barbie. Where the Frak would we be now if that had happened.

9  Practice Break / Purely Politics / Re: Wake Up, America! on: May 01, 2015, 11:06AM
We'll see. I know I see Bernie more on social media that I do any of the other candidates from either side. This may be the first "post mainstream media" election. Bruce. Bernie is a NOT a socialist. He is a Social Democrat. THere is a significant difference, and it will be up to him to make that differentiation apparent to the American voters. I'm not sure enough of us are educagted enough to get that. His agenda is, by a wide margin, the best one for America that is being offered by anyone in this horse race.
10  Practice Break / Purely Politics / Re: Wake Up, America! on: May 01, 2015, 09:58AM
I have frequently told anyone who has asked that Hillary Clinton would not be my first choice as the Democratic nominee for President in 2016, but if she was, she would be orders of magnitude preferable to whoever in the GOP clown car won the derby to run against her. Well, someone whose policies and positions I find orders of magnitude preferable to Hillary’s has now thrown his hat in the ring.
Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont this week became the first announced opponent of Mrs. Clinton in the Democratic primaries. Sanders, who calls himself a Social Democrat from the Northern European mold faces a long, uphill struggle to have any hope what so ever of winning the parties nomination, and an even steeper climb to be viable in the general election.
That said, Bernie is a breath of fresh, open, honest air in a political system that is permeated by everything but that. He is an unabashed supporter of the average American, and the worst nightmare of the ruling oligarchy that runs both parties in this country. It is hard to imagine him being competitive in the big money game that is modern American politics, but maybe his principled stand in opposition to that game will be resonant enough to carry his campaign forward.
Many have suggested he is running strictly to force Clinton to move her policies and positions further to the left. I don’t believe he would go to the expense and personal cost of mounting a campaign if he did not genuinely feel he could win it.
My main questions about his candidacy have to do with the readiness of the people in this country to hear his message. For those of us who recognize the fact that a progressive agenda is the only agenda that has ever provided long term peace and prosperity to everyone in this country, Bernie is way over due. Sadly, 100 years of Conservative propaganda has convinced way too many of us that long term peace and prosperity “trickle-down” from the rich, a farcical notion that reality has proven false time and again.
I see Sanders as an idealist in the mode of George McGovern, who lost to Richard Nixon in 1972. My belief is McGovern’s loss was due to the political pendulum swinging to the right at that time in our history. It just may be Bernie’s time now.
11  Practice Break / Purely Politics / Re: Wake Up, America! on: Apr 24, 2015, 05:31AM

If we still lived in 1950’s America, the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal the President is seeking fast-track authority for MIGHT be a good idea. In today’s world I am going to require a whole lot more convincing before I sign on as a supporter.

This deal has been negotiated in secret, and most of what is in it appears to have been written by the corporate and financial interests that stand to gain immense profits from it. I say “appears to have been” because the entire process has been done behind closed doors, with no oversight from anybody.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren claims, “I actually have had supporters of the deal say to me ‘They have to be secret, because if the American people knew what was actually in them, they would be opposed.”

She goes on, “Think about that. Real people, people whose jobs are at stake, small-business owners who don’t want to compete with overseas companies that dump their waste in rivers and hire workers for a dollar a day—those people, people without an army of lobbyists—they would be opposed. I believe if people across this country would be opposed to a particular trade agreement, then maybe that trade agreement should not happen.”

I have to agree. The history of trade agreements entered into by this country is not a pretty one for the average American. The largest one, NAFTA, has been a disaster for American workers. Corporations are allowed to move their manufacturing to nations where they can pay slave wages with little or no environmental regulation. The result has been stagnant pay structures and a shifting of all economic growth to the top 1%. The TPP will be NAFTA on steroids.

In the 1950’s, America had strong unions and a tax structure that would have ameliorated the effects of these pacts, insuring the middle class saw the benefits of them. 35 years of tax-cutting, “trickle-down” economic policies and union busting by the GOP have stripped all those protections from our society.

President Obama asks that we trust him when he says he would not do this deal if it were not in the interest of the American middle class. For the most part, I am inclined to trust this President. But, in this case I STRONGLY support the concept of “Trust, but verify”.

No fast track for the TPP. Let us see what’s in it.
12  Practice Break / Purely Politics / Re: Wake Up, America! on: Apr 19, 2015, 08:48AM

Interesting. The 3rd chart does not list at all that any money is being spent what-so-ever on poor folks who are not under 18, pregnant, or elderly or disabled. It shows 100% of Texas Medicaid spending going to those 3 categories of Texans. THere are an awful lot of PEOPLE in Texas who need access to health care that are not even mentioned in that article. According to the charts, the state did not offer Medicaid to PEOPLE not in one of those categories prior to 2014 and the enactment of the PPACA. And, they are fighting NOT to provide that needed help to those PEOPLE now!
13  Practice Break / Purely Politics / Re: Wake Up, America! on: Apr 18, 2015, 01:37PM

Holy cow.

According to the figures cited, the 'danger' is that people who are currently eligible for Medicaid will sign up? So Texas's objection is that in order to get marginally indigent citizens insured nearly for free, they'll have to insure the most indigent Texans (whom they're already on the hook for, legally) for forty cents on the dollar? Sorry, I'm just a dumb businessman, but that sounds like a hell of a deal.

There's a reason that you're not hearing much about this, in precisely these terms--if it's the real reason, it's reprehensible. If Texas won't protect its most needy on a deal like this, they aren't interested in doing so. If 4/5 of the new signups weren't previously eligible, doubling the size of the budget for the program after accepting Medicaid expansion would result in nearly five times as many Texans getting insurance. So we have a state whose governor brags about how low taxes improves state revenues, but they don't have enough money in the state coffers to help the most needy with the most basic of human needs, even if the feds pay for the bulk of it.

Just one of the reasons I am such a proud EX-Texan. Not that FloriDUH is that big of an improvement, if at all. THe people of Texas are great, but they have let the worst of them run the state for a very long time.
14  Practice Break / Purely Politics / Re: Wake Up, America! on: Apr 17, 2015, 06:45AM
Wrong thread.
15  Practice Break / Purely Politics / Re: Wake Up, America! on: Apr 17, 2015, 05:39AM
This week's effort:


Most of the time in this column, I take issue with the national GOP over their ineptitude and inability to govern. But, things aren’t any better here in Flori-DUH.
Take the on-going kerfuffle over the LIP (Low Income Pool) and Medicaid expansion. Taking the federal dollars and expanding Medicaid should be a no brainer. The LIP, negotiated by Jeb Bush when he was Governor, is a fund used to treat the poor who cannot afford health insurance when they must seek care at emergency rooms. It is the single least cost effective way to supply health care that exists on the planet.

Because of the federal monies allocated to expand Medicaid in the PPACA, LIP was scheduled to sunset last year as those poor were absorbed into the Medicaid system and provided with health insurance. The state was able to negotiate a one year extension, but that is about to expire, and the ideologues we have put in control off our state do not seem to be able to figure out this no brainer.

Through LIP, Florida receives around $2 Billion that goes to hospitals to cover indigent care. Under the Medicaid expansion Florida would receive approximately $5 Billion that would provide health insurance to hundreds of thousands of Floridians who cannot afford it otherwise. This would allow them to access preventive and non-emergent medical care through Dr.’s offices rather than ERs.

There are so many advantages and improvements in that model it would be impossible to list them all in a piece this short. As a former paramedic, I can attest that removing as many non-emergent patients from ER rooms would be a tremendous improvement in the care of true emergencies, and the cost savings would be ENORMOUS.

So, while the numbskulls we have running Tallahassee chase their tails fighting over how not to get this right, the State is about lose $2 Billion it will have to make up through higher taxes somewhere while $5 Billion sits in Washington with FloriDUH’s name on it just waiting to be dispersed.

Governor Fraud has flip-flopped like a fish on the deck over the Medicaid expansion. First he was against it. Then he was for it. Now, he’s against it again, and suing to keep the inefficient LIP program going.

I guess, for a no-brainer to work, there has to be a working brain somewhere. Wish we would elect some.
16  Practice Break / Purely Politics / Re: Wake Up, America! on: Apr 14, 2015, 08:47PM
Sure... and that's why the GOP has made the last few congresses the least productive in history, with the more filibusters then all other times combined.

That's why a simple syntactical issue about the federal government providing support for people on health exchanges is before the supreme court now, instead of being a quick easy fix.

What are you smoking?

Where the Frak is the LIKE button?
17  Practice Break / Purely Politics / Re: Wake Up, America! on: Apr 12, 2015, 08:22PM
Some interesting concepts expressed there. Certainly the kind of "outside the box" brain-storming that needs to done on this issue, as well as so many others.
18  Practice Break / Purely Politics / Re: Wake Up, America! on: Apr 10, 2015, 05:45AM
Body Cams

“This is the song that never ends,
It just goes on and on my friends………..”

WE just had another verse to a never-ending song played out this week in SC. Yet another unarmed, black man was gunned down by a policeman. True to form, the story emerged of a black man who initiated a struggle, a police officer in fear for his life, and another black life ended too soon.

This might have been the story of the event that became the official record, as it does in SSOOO many others, were it not for the fact there was a hero with a cell phone recording the event. This citizen held onto the video for several days, weighing his fear for his own safety against the grief of the family and a desire for justice, before turning the video over to the family who released it to the local paper and the NY Times.

The video directly contradicts the narrative being pursued by the investigators up until its release. It clearly shows an officer not in personal peril calmy firing eight shots at the back of a fleeing man. After the man goes down, the police officer retrieves an object, probably a taser, and drops it next to the body, setting up his original narrative.

Nobody keeps records on exactly how many times a year citizens are killed during confrontations with police. One has to hope that will change as episodes like this one more and more frequently come to light. Estimates are there are more 1000 deaths a year at the hands of those who are pledged to “Protect and Serve”.

It is a truth that almost all of these killings are the “justifiable homocides” their investigators rule them to be. The juvenile obsession with gun culture we have in this country virtually assures police will experience armed confrontations on a regular basis, and the cops mostly get it right. But, we have no clue how often a situation like the one in SC this week gets swept under the rug by a thin blue line that too often succumbs to the Us vs. Them culture that leads to whitewashes and cover-ups.

Body cameras, and policies mandating their use, on every police officer interacting with the public should be a top law enforcement priority in this country. Good cops need that protection, and bad cops need to be gone.

19  Practice Break / Purely Politics / Re: Wake Up, America! on: Apr 07, 2015, 06:07AM
There are clearly a lot of you people who choose to believe Obama about this framework deal. Some of you even admit that Israel doesn't have a right to exist, Iran has the right to have nuclear weapons, and some even think that Texas doesn't have the right to exist either.

So, since you people feel that way, I guess I am wrong. hahaha.

 Boy, talk about false premises and false equivalencies.....
20  Practice Break / Purely Politics / Re: Wake Up, America! on: Apr 06, 2015, 02:11PM
As my NRC friend pointed out quite succinctly, while Iran may have been moving in the direction of nuclear weapons during the Ahmadinejad days, there is little, or no, evidence that they have continued on that path in the last decade or so. The Supreme leader has issued a "Fatwa" against the development of nuclear weapons. The right continues its crusade against Iran because it needs fear and hatred of a BOOGIEMAN to keep their non-critical thinking base from realizing how completely bankrupt their economic and foreignolicies are.
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